Aaron Bushnell: The Individual Who Self-Immolated at the Israeli Embassy

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Written By Vikas Jangid

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Key Points:

  • On Sunday afternoon, outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., a 25-year-old Air Force service member named Aaron Bushnell placed his phone on the ground to set up a livestream.
  • He then positioned himself in front of the embassy gates and set himself on fire while shouting "Free Palestine" in a shocking protest against the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza.
  • Below is all the information we have about Bushnell, who tragically succumbed to his injuries on Sunday night.

Source: Twitter/Time 

The self-immolation at the embassy

Hours before setting himself on fire, Aaron Bushnell shared a Twitch link on his Facebook page along with a caption.

Many of us like to ask ourselves, “What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?”
The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now.

Just before 1 p.m. on Sunday, he began livestreaming and headed towards the Israeli Embassy carrying an insulated water bottle filled with flammable liquid. In his video, he stated, "I will no longer be complicit in genocide," expressing his intent to engage in extreme protest. He compared his actions to the suffering of people in Palestine, which he deemed normalized by the ruling class.

Approaching the embassy gates, Bushnell poured the liquid from the bottle over himself while declaring, "Free Palestine." He then attempted to ignite himself. A law enforcement officer approached him, asking if he needed help. Despite the officer's presence, Bushnell proceeded to set himself on fire, continuing to shout, "Free Palestine."

As Aaron Bushnell screamed in agony, another law enforcement officer off-camera instructed him to "get on the ground." A second officer demanded fire extinguishers rather than firearms. By the time D.C. Fire and EMS arrived, the fire had been extinguished.

Aaron Bushnell’s background

Aaron Bushnell, a 25-year-old Air Force member stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, hailed from Whitman, Massachusetts. He joined the Air Force in May 2020, specializing in cyber-defense operations.

Originally from a religious community on Cape Cod, Bushnell expressed a desire to transition into software engineering from the military. Friends revealed his involvement in activism, including attending socialist events and volunteering to aid the homeless.

On the day of the incident at the Israeli embassy, Bushnell texted a friend expressing affection and uncertainty. Earlier discussions with the same friend reflected his concerns as an anarchist about effective activism.

Another friend recalled Bushnell's distress over the situation in Gaza, despite lacking concrete information about U.S. involvement. Bushnell's tragic act underscores the complexities of his beliefs and the profound impact of global conflicts on individuals.

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